Common name: Kelpfishes



A small family of temperate fishes, closely related to morwongs (Cheilodactylidae), known only from Australia, Lord Howe Island, New Zealand, Chile and the Juan Fernandez Islands. The family contains a single genus with 6 species.

Species have nostrils tubular with tufts of cirri; scales cycloid, of moderate size; a single, long based dorsal fin with stout spines, spinous section separated by distinct notch from slightly shorter-based soft portion; anal fin small with strong spines; pectoral fins large with branched rays dorsally and 6 distinctly thicker, simple, unbranched rays below, lower rays extending well beyond edge of membrane and some beyond tips of branched rays; pelvic fins small.  

Kelpfishes are well adapted for life in shallow coastal waters where they are exposed to strong wave action. They use their large pectoral fins to lodge their bodies into small depressions or cracks in rocks to hold themselves in place against the surge. 

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray, Kelpfishes, CHIRONEMIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,


Burridge, C.P., Meléndez, R. & Dyer, B.S. 2006. Multiple origins of the Juan Fernández kelpfish fauna and evidence for frequent and unidirectional dispersal of Cirrhitoid fishes across the South Pacific. Systematic Biology 55(4): 566-578Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Oplegnathidae and Chironemidae. pp. 619-622 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. [620-622]Meléndez, R. & Dyer, B.S. 2010. Review of the southern hemisphere fish family Chironemidae (Perciformes: Cirrhitoidei). Revista de Biología Marina y Oceanografía 45: 683-693Waite, E.R. 1916. A list of the fishes of Norfolk Island and indication of their range to Lord Howe Island, Kermadec Island, Australia and New Zealand. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 40: 452-458 pls 44-46 [pl. 46]